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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Playboy prince may live to regret his partying lifestyle

Playboy prince may live to regret his partying lifestyle

WHEN a guy calls his luxury yacht ‘Tits’ and names the lifeboats Nipple 1 and Nipple 2, it says a lot about his inclinations.

As does the offspring of those inclinations with his myriad partners – eighteen children from seven women at the last count.

When he commissions nude statues of himself with a buxom lady in Kama Sutra-like poses, it might be assumed he is a famous playboy or perhaps even the Playboy founder himself, Hugh Hefner.

But no, he is actually a senior member of the royal family of one of the region’s most staunchly muslim nations.

More precisely, he is a former finance minister of the country with the highest per capita wealth in Southeast Asia.

He is, of course, Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei, who is back in the news after losing a major court case in New York last month.

Jefri alleged that two ex-financial advisers cheated him when they sold his 23-room Long Island estate for a mere US$11 million.

He managed to prevent photographs of the erotic life-size sculptures being shown in court, but he lost the overall case and was ordered to pay $21 million to his former advisers.

The photos were leaked to the press anyway and his image as a wildly irrepressible Don Juan was further cemented.

I first encountered Jefri in the early 1990s when he visited Kuala Lumpur with his elder brother, Sultan Hassanal, the prime minister and absolute ruler of tiny, oil-rich Brunei.

Jefri, then 38, but looking younger, was a lithe and handsome man, with a pencil moustache and a soft, purring voice.

He appeared shy in public, rather like his other brother, the foreign minister Prince Mohamed, whom I interviewed some years later.

Although Jefri was known to have an eye for pretty girls, no ordinary Bruneians – at least, none outside his tight-lipped inner circle – had any idea of how rampantly he indulged in this obsession.

Of course, the girls knew – the bevvies of Caucasian beauties that he favoured and who were flown in from Europe, Australia and North America.

In return for an interlude of amorous activity and a hefty pay cheque, they signed confidentiality agreements not to disclose what went on.

For a time, it all worked out beautifully.

But then Jefri’s own company, Amedeo Corp, sank into debt. To stay afloat, he embezzelled $14.8 billion – yes, billion – from the government. The media got wind of it. And the girls started talking.

A former Miss USA, Shannon Marketic, alleged that she was lured to Brunei under false pretences and kept as a sex slave. Her case was settled out of court, but more followed.

In a recent memoir called ‘Some Girls’, Jillian Lauren wrote of joining Jefri’s 40-strong harem, where she was showered with expensive jewellery, designer clothes and purses full of cash.

It was all too much for Sultan Hassanal, who sacked his wayward sibling and sent him into exile, where Jefri continued his extravagant lifestyle in London, Paris and New York.

However, even exiled royals can go too far, as Jefri now appears to have done with the pornographic statues that would make the Marquis de Sade blush – and that have certainly embarrassed Brunei, which will be the ASEAN chairman next year.

Of course, the secretive sultanate will try to close the door and hush things up, but the news will get out – as it assuredly should

For Jefri’s story is a salutary warning to the pampered and privileged relatives of Asia’s monarchs, sultans, military generals and assorted authoritarian rulers.

What goes around comes around.

Those triple-parked SUVs, those sex and booze-fuelled parties, those BMWs and Cartier watches for the mistresses, they will not go unnoticed or unpunished forever.

If it can happen in Brunei, let alone in Tunisia and Eygpt, then it can happen here, whether the dog is beaten or not.

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